I never knew how red it could be. The blood was all over me, but not as much as it was on her. Her long chestnut hair covered her face, but her dark lightless eyes glared back at me with hatred as she lay in a pool of her own blood. The massive hole on her back gushed out the red sticky liquid, covering the wooden floor in a beautiful shade of crimson.
I didn't know why she hated me. I didn't even know her, yet she hated me to the core. I knew I shouldn't be happy about this, but I was—a slight smile formed on my face. Blood and gut had never been such a delightful sight, especially from her.
I was scared and happy to see this bitch on the floor. Why was I enjoying this? I didn't remember how this happened. Did I even want to know? Why was I so thrilled?
There was a voice in the distance. I recognized it as mine.
For heaven's sake, wake up!
It was a dream... No, a nightmare!
This face. . . This body, these eyes were not mine! He (I) was smiling coldly in the blood's reflection. You're (I'm) glad you (I) had an audience, weren't you (was I)?
When I blinked, he did too, and the joy switched to horror as he realized what he had done. The smile he once had turned into a deep frown. His dark brown eyes stared at the bloody body under him, and he cried so loudly that it echoed in my ears. I started to fade as I watched this boy sob uncontrollably in the red reflection, finally waking up from this dreadful dream. He uttered one final word before I disappeared.
I had been having strange dreams since I was little. They felt lively enough to be a memory, but that couldn't be right. Each person was unusual. Their age and appearances were all different. They were not me, but at the same time, they felt like me. I felt their pain, joy, and of course, their fear and anger. Fear tasted sweet, like apple pie or any other delicious dessert. It scared me. How can someone savor the taste without feeling disgusted by oneself?
I could sometimes taste the emotion even when I was awake. The sweet aroma of someone's fear was enough to question my humanity. I always had the biggest grin when someone screamed in terror, whether I was the cause of it or not. The closest memory that I knew was real was in first grade.
Ms. Klum had a pet hamster named Checkers. He was small enough to fit into someone's hand. Small and fragile and easy to squeeze the life out of it. It was an accident that Checkers got stepped on in the crowd of thirty frantic children. Everyone was horrified to see their beloved pet smashed. But for me? I couldn't help but smile at the chaos before me. I swear I didn't kill him, but it was enough to have a therapist talk to me for a couple of months before the money went dry.
Bad things happened whenever I was near. A girl broke her arm when she fell off the slide. Our neighbor's house caught on fire. One of my friends went missing. Many things happened that people thought I had something to do with, but I didn't do it.
I wasn’t a monster.
There were many accusations against me that I ended up moving. Seven times I had moved. Seven times it ended with a witch hunt against my family. I was surprised I hadn't changed my name yet or seen an online forum warning others about me, but I guess I was overthinking it.
You would think I should stay away from people by now, so this won't happen. Become a lone wolf and wear all black to be some mysterious transfer student with a dark past. For some reason, that attracts people, but then again, I never wore anything like that. I looked as ordinary as I could. I wore the same red hoodie, blue jeans, and black sneakers even in summer. I easily blended in with the crowd, yet people always seemed attracted to me. Maybe it was because I was new, or perhaps it was something else. Either way, I didn't mind it. I needed their company. There was something inside me that fed off of it.
I stared out the window as the trees zoomed by. There was something about the forest that fascinated me. We had been driving for hours, and all we saw were trees. Sycamores, oaks, and pine fly past the car's window—an endless pile of green leaves and mountains. Camping out here would be fun.
"I think you'll love it here," Dad said, breaking the silence, "The school is nice, and our new house has a huge yard. We can build that treehouse you always wanted."
"Treehouses are for little kids," I responded without looking at him.
I wanted a treehouse when I was six. All our places were apartments or had small yards with no large trees. Dad promised to build a playhouse, but he never had the time. I was fourteen and was too old for that, but the thought of making it was still appealing.
"Okay, we can build something else. What about a shed?"
I could taste the guilt. The sour taste of lemonade danced on my tongue. I guess Dad wanted to build a treehouse. He promised to make it, but I just didn't care now.
"A shed is good," I nodded in agreement.
Dad seemed happy when I said that. The taste was rather unpleasant. I didn't know why I hated the taste of joy, the flavor of old bread. I didn't show any signs of the bitter taste and continued to look out the window, biting the inside of my lip to hide my discomfort.
"This time will be different," he said matter-of-factly, "We will live here, permanently. No more moving."
Are you sure that was a good idea? I wanted to say but kept my mouth shut. They were tired. Hell, I was tired too, but there was no way we could survive in one place for too long. I know they couldn't afford to keep on moving houses anymore. How much was this house?
"Look, we're here," he said, grinning as he pulled into the driveway.
The house was long, with a garage and bushes near the front porch. The backyard had a glass sliding door that faced the woods. My room faced the street. Disappointing, but this place was better than the others. Maybe we were staying here permanently. But what if the witch hunt happens again? Do we have to endure the harassment? I pushed the thoughts out of my mind. I couldn't think about that right now.
I started to unpack my things when Mom entered the living room. She asked Dad why he didn't wake her as it was getting dark. I stared out the window. The street lights started to turn on, glowing dimly in the sunset. Their "arguments," if you could even call them that, never last long, and they always make up before dinner. And right on cue, they made up. Mom was able to decorate the house without complaining about the furniture arrangement. The movers did an excellent job if that was the case.
We ate pizza for dinner. Pizza was the only exception I had when it came to bread. It never has that awful bitter flavor. After our meal, we immediately went to bed. We were exhausted, but I couldn't sleep. I lay awake, staring at the ceiling of my new bedroom. Nothing seemed different, but at the same time, nothing felt the same. The memories of people affected by my curse clouded my mind. The people, who blamed me for their misfortune, drove us out of town. It was the twenty-first century, and they acted like it was the 1600s.
I was lost in thought when Mom sat down beside me. Sometimes, I believed she had the same abilities as me, but that may be a mother's instinct to know what their child was feeling.
"Is it true? Are we staying here for good?" I groaned as I sat up.
She nodded," I think we should stay. Besides, it's hard to find a house like this at a low price."
"Everything is going to be fine. Bad things happen. It's not your fault, so quit thinking that it is. There is no such thing as a curse. Tomorrow is your first day in school, and I want you to make friends. No matter what happens, we are not running away," She stated, kissing my forehead.
I gave a watery smile. It was easier said than done. My parents never wanted to move in the first place. They did it for me. Maybe I should try to avoid people and pretend to make friends. That would make them happy, right?
Happy? I felt the pizza crawling out of my throat as if I was going to puke.
She shut the door behind her as she left. The sweet aftertaste lingered in my mouth. They wondered whether the cycle would repeat, wondering if the curse I had was real or just a coincidence. I didn't know myself.
I never told them about the dreams, memories, or whatever it was called. Would it make a difference if I did? Every nightmare led to a loved one dying or the person I possessed going crazy or taking their own life. I hoped they were just nightmares and not some omen. I closed my eyes and wished that tonight would be a dreamless night.
While the boy slept soundly in his new home, a creature crept into the shadows looking for that someone who gave off a sweet aroma of lilac. Pleasant smells tend to have the purest of souls.
The creature continued to scurry inside the darkness, avoiding the illuminated areas of the streetlights. It felt another presence that piqued its interest. This presence was certainly not human. Was this thing after the same soul? The monster was delighted to know, but it didn't stop its quest.
The creature emerged from the darkness and gazed at the two-story Victorian house. The flowery fragrance aroused the monster as it flew to the house, salivating as it drew closer. The beast imagined the soul in its dead hands. The scent was potent enough that it was the only thing the monster could sense; however, it stopped. Something was preventing the creature from eating its meal. It examed at the door and grunted. A familiar sigil was carved on the wooden door, small but powerful enough to hold the dangerous demon. It smiled as the round sigil glowed a murky blue.
Only a few humans knew how to perform this type of magic. Many preferred Ruin or Red magic, as Arcane magic was difficult to control.
It cursed under its breath and left still grinning because the pure soul would soon depart its barrier. Once that happens, the creature would be ready to feed.
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